February is traditionally a very busy month for me as it’s not only my favorite time of the year because of how warm the water temperature is at the beach, it’s also peak wedding season for my celebrant business.
As an ode to a NON astrological yet overly commercialized holiday called Valentines Day, I wanted to share a little about a well known book called ‘The 5 Love Languages – The Secret to Love that Lasts’ by Dr. Gary Chapman which has helped me decode my own Love Language.
Have you ever reflected on an ex and the reasons why you might have broken up and thought to yourself, “you know, some of that might have actually been my fault, too”? …yeah, me neither. (Just kidding.)
But in all seriousness, it’s incredibly common for relationships between well-meaning people to suffer from miscommunication and a feeling that “he / she doesn’t love me like I want to be loved”.
I hear it a lot in my counselling practice, and often during the session, my client will often suggest that if their partner had any inkling of just how hurt my client was feeling, they would probably be mortified – but how can we express our hurt / disappointment when we’ve been so triggered?
When you’re in the heat of the moment, it’s hard to understand any perspective other your own. With over 35 years of experience in marital counseling, Dr. Gary Chapman knows a thing or two about love and how to help people keep it alive for the long haul.
Dr. Chapman’s theory is that we all grow up speaking a primary ‘love language’, one of five clearly defined methods of communication. Just as we grow up speaking a primary language such as English, Greek or Spanish, we also grow up with a primary love language.
People give and receive love through:
- words of affirmation
- quality time
- acts of service
- physical touch
Once you’ve identified your own love language, you’ll be able to ask for (and get) what you want out of a relationship. But it’s just as important to uncover what your partner’s love language is.
Looking at the list above, you can probably see that you give and receive love in all 5 ways (or languages), but there is usually one that is more dominant – this is the way that you say love and also likely the way you wish to receive it.
If you’re feeling stuck, try thinking of what it is you complain most about – your complaint will help you find your love language.
Or what is it that you request the most? Do you ask for help with the housework? Your language might likely be ‘acts of service’.
If you frequently ask if you look good in this outfit, you might be a ‘words of affirmation’ kind of lover
Do you wish your partner would commit to a weekly date night or to get you a gift once in a while – your answer would determine whether you are a ‘quality time’ kind of lover or a ‘gifter.’
And the big one that gets tested after being together for along time and having kids – is physical touch.
Some of my clients complain that he / she won’t hold their hand in public and much like the other dialects; the ‘physical touch’ kind of language is also a cultural value.
In fact, I truly believe that 5 of the love languages outlined by Dr. Gary Chapman come down to our values and how we express them.
When I think back to my last partner and the things that would frustrate me, it came down to him needing ‘words of affirmation’ and I would argue that I did encourage / value / compliment him.
What I didn’t realise at the time, is that by stating “that’s great sweetie,” it simply wasn’t enough for him to feel loved, encouraged and valued.
As the much youngest kid in my extended family, ‘words of affirmation’ didn’t really mean much as everyone was so much older than me and busy with the next stage in their own life.
I guess that’s why ‘quality time’ still means so much to me now. I’d choose an intimate one on one dinner catch up over a loud party full of people – any time.
What about you? What are some pearls of wisdom you can share about your love language?
“And we are put on this earth a little space that we might learn to bear the beams of love” – William Blake